Choose gratitude

Psalm 103:2 NLT

He sat on the park bench so depressed-looking that a policeman tried to console him. “Something the matter?” “Yeah,” he replied. “A few months ago my grandfather left me $500,000 and some oil wells.” The policeman responded, “That doesn’t sound like something to be upset over.” “Yeah, but you haven’t heard the whole story. Last month my uncle left me $1,000,000.” The policeman shook his head. “I don’t get it. Why are you so unhappy?” He replied, “So far this month, nobody’s left me anything.” Seriously, he’s part of a group of people who are unhappy no matter what they have. The Psalmist shows us how to overcome an ungrateful attitude by cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Thinking and thanking go hand-in-hand. Memory is a catalyst for worship. An old hymn declares, “Count your blessings, name them one by one…see what God has done.” The Psalmist encourages us to do three things: First, think about what God has given us – His forgiveness, healing, protection, redemption, love, and compassion (See vv. 1-5). Second, think about what God has not given us – the punishment our sins deserve (See vv. 8-12). Third, think about what God is yet going to give us. “From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” (v. 17 NIV). God accepts you when you trust in Christ’s performance, not your own. So each morning look in the mirror and say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

Soul food: 2 Sam 22:31-24:25; Mat 26:47-56; Ps 146 Prov 18:23-24

Guard against intolerance

Acts 10:34 NKJV

Tolerance isn’t just about agreeing to embrace our differences. It’s about accepting the other person’s freedom to believe what they want, and to behave according to those beliefs. One of the best tests of spiritual maturity is this: how willing am I to love and pray for those whose beliefs and behaviours are unacceptable to me? Instead of condemning people who make mistakes, we should see them the same way we see a blind man walking towards a cliff’s edge. We wouldn’t say, ‘Just look at him, how stupid to be heading that way’. Instead, we’d have compassion for him and try to show him a safer route. Let’s be clear, though; compassion doesn’t mean compromise. We need to be like our heavenly Father, who loves sinners, but hates sin. In Bible days Jews looked down on Gentiles and referred to them as ‘dogs’ (have a read of Matthew 15:26-28). But Jesus came and redeemed those ‘dogs’ and turned them into disciples. When Cornelius the Gentile summoned Peter the Jew to his home, Peter said, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean’ (Acts 10:28 NKJV). God was shaking up deeply-rooted traditions and opening up new opportunities for the gospel. Peter continued, ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’ (vv. 34-35 NKJV). If we’re open to God, He’ll work in us to expand our minds for His glory, and show us new ways to share the gospel with others.

2 Sam 12:1-14:20; Mat 26:1-13; Ps 118:19-29; Prov 18:10-12

Keep together (1)

1 Corinthians 13:4 MSG

Imagine you’re married. You and your husband/wife never disagree about anything and never get cross or annoy each other. Household chores are shared equally. Your priorities are identical. You hate spending time apart because you’re completely happy in each other’s company. And you’ve probably guessed by now that we’re not being completely realistic here. We can get so caught up in the idea of a ‘perfect marriage’ (think about all the ‘happily ever after’ stories you heard when you were little), that when we finally are in a serious relationship, reality can clash with the fantasy world we’ve built up in our minds. We forget that every relationship is made up of imperfect people with weaknesses and failings. So if we’re banking on perfection in a romantic relationship, we’re going to be disappointed when the difficulties and stresses of life start to test it. Perhaps we need to re-think our definition of a ‘perfect marriage’. The Bible tells us: ‘Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have…Isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others…always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end’ (1 Corinthians 13:4- 7 MSG). Unselfish love like this keeps us together. If two people who fall in love are willing to both stand together in love through whatever challenges of life they’ll face, they’re a pretty formidable team. It might not be all fairy tales and flowers, but isn’t that a great definition of a perfect marriage to aim for?

Golgota was altyd deel van God se plan

Jesaja 53:10 NLV

Die Psalmdigter het geskryf: ‘My God, my God! Waarom het U my verlaat?.. Maar ek is net ‘n wurm, en nie ‘n man nie; ek word bespot deur die mensdom… Elkeen wat my sien…skud die kop en sê: ‘Hy het op die Here vertrou, laat Hý hom dan red!..’ My lewe is uitgestort soos water, al my bene val uitmekaar… My tong kleef aan my verhemelte… My hande en voete is vasgemaak… deur die lot te werp deel hulle my kledingstukke’ (Psalm 22:1-18 NLV). Dink daaroor: Dawid kon besig wees om Jesus se kruisiging in detail te beskryf. Tog, toe hy hierdie woorde geskryf het, was kruisiging nog nie as ‘n metode van die doodstraf ingestel nie. Dit is eers eeue later deur die Feniciërs ingestel en lank daarna is dit eers deur die Romeinse Ryk begin gebruik. Dr Charles Augustus Briggs sê: ‘Jy kan hierdie Psalm neem en dit langs die Nuwe Testamentiese weergawes van die kruisiging plaas en sien hoe dit bymekaar pas. Dit is verstommend hoe iemand iets wat eers ‘n duisend jaar later sou plaasvind so intiem en ingewikkeld kon beskryf.’ Golgota het nie toevallig gebeur nie. Lank voordat Jesus gebore is, het God ‘n plan gehad om ons deur Christus met Homself te versoen (sien 2 Korintiërs 5:18 NLV). Die historikus Paul L Maier sê: ‘In Jesaja hoofstuk 53 vind ons amper ‘n lopende kommentaar van wat op Goeie Vrydag plaasgevind het. Dit sou wiskundig onmoontlik wees vir enigiemand anders as Jesus om hierdie profesie in die Ou Testament te vervul.’ Die punt is: ‘Maar dit was die Here se wil om hom te vermorsel en te laat ly…’ Dit beteken dat lank voor daar ‘n Paasfees was, was God reeds besig om aan jou te dink!

Use what God has given you

... Mark 14:8 NKJV

Jesus paid one of His greatest compliments to a woman of the streets who poured costly ointment from an alabaster box onto His head: “She has done what she could.” God requires no more of us, and is worthy of no less. One night in 1837, a woman called Florence heard the voice of God telling her she’d a special mission in life. Nine years later that mission began to take shape when a friend sent her information about an institution in Germany that trained deaconesses, so she went there and learned to care for the sick. In 1853 she became superintendent of a women’s hospital in London. When the Crimean War broke out in 1854 she volunteered to take care of British soldiers, and went to Constantinople. Once in Turkey, she was put in charge of nursing at a military hospital. It was a male-dominated society and the doctors were hostile toward her. The hospital was deplorably filthy, so she dug in her heels and began caring for her patients, at first using the provisions she brought with her and then undertaking a correspondence campaign to resupply the hospital. She spent hours each day in the wards, touching virtually every wounded soldier who entered it. The comfort she gave them on her night rounds earned her the nickname “the lady with the lamp.” Who was she? Florence Nightingale. One of her most famous sayings was, “I never made an excuse, or accepted an excuse.” So instead of focusing on the talents and resources you don’t have, use what God has given you.

Soul food: <a target=”_blank” href=””>Jer 28-30</a>;
<a target=”_blank” href=””>Luk 21:12-24</a>;
<a target=”_blank” href=””>Ps 72:12-20</a>;
<a target=”_blank” href=””>Prov 9:7-9</a>